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The Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Death of the Republic

  • TPP is blatantly unconstitutional. But as Joe Firestone observes, neo-liberalism and corporate contributions seem to have blinded the deal's proponents so much that they cannot see they are selling out the sovereignty of the United States to foreign and multinational corporations.
  • TPP Leak Reveals Extraordinary New Powers for Thousands of Foreign Firms to Challenge U.S. Policies and Demand Taxpayer Compensation

Ellen Brown, Huffington Post

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"The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government." -- Article IV, Section 4, US Constitution

stopp-tppa.jpg04/24/2015 | A republican form of government is one in which power resides in elected officials representing the citizens, and government leaders exercise power according to the rule of law. In The Federalist Papers, James Madison defined a republic as "a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people . . . ."

On April 22, 2015, the Senate Finance Committee approved a bill to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive trade agreement that would override our republican form of government and hand judicial and legislative authority to a foreign three-person panel of corporate lawyers.

Ellen Brown: Author, Web of Debt, Public Bank Solution; President, Public Banking Institute

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TPP Leak Reveals Extraordinary New Powers for Thousands of Foreign Firms to Challenge U.S. Policies and Demand Taxpayer CompensationPublic Citizen

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  • Unveiling of Parallel Legal System for Foreign Corporations Will Fuel TPP Controversy, Further Complicate Obama’s Push for Fast Track
  • Stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Deal

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Series | Capitalism Unmasked: Part 5: Capitalism and the destruction of life on Earth: Six theses on saving the humans

 

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  • AlterNet Editor's Note: When harmful beliefs plague a population, you can bet that the 1% is benefiting. This article is part of a new AlterNet series, "Capitalism Unmasked," edited by Lynn Parramore and produced in partnership with author Douglas Smith and Econ4 to expose the myths and lies of unbridled capitalism and show the way to a better future.
  • Previously in this series
  • Approaching the End of Human History?
  • Austerity, Debt & Environmental Degradation
  • George Carlin | “The Planet Is Fine”

Richard Smith, Institute for Policy Research & Development

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ABPub/2011/01/31/2014092742.gif2013/07/02 | Sleepwalking to extinction

When, on May 10th, scientists at Mauna Loa Observatory on the big island of Hawaii announced that global CO2 emissions had crossed a threshold at 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in millions of years, a sense of dread spread around the world and not only among climate scientists. CO2 emissions have been relentlessly climbing since Charles David Keeling first set up his tracking station near the summit of Mauna Loa Observatory in 1958 to monitor average daily global CO2 levels. At that time, CO2 concentrations registered 315ppm. CO2 emissions and atmospheric concentrations have been relentlessly climbing ever since and, as the records show, temperatures rises will follow. For all the climate summits, the promises of “voluntary restraint,” the carbon trading and carbon taxes, the growth of CO2 emissions and atmospheric concentrations has not just been relentless, it has been accelerating in what scientists have dubbed the “Keeling Curve”. In the early 1960s, CO2ppm concentrations in the atmosphere grew by 0.7ppm per year. In recent decades, especially as China has industrialized, the growth rate has tripled to 2.1ppm per year. In just the first 17 weeks of 2013, CO2 levels jumped by 2.74ppm compared to last year -- “the biggest increase since benchmark monitoring stations high on the Hawaiian volcano of Mauna Loa began taking measurements in 1958.”1 Carbon concentrations have not been this high since the Pliocene period, between 3m and 5m years ago, when global average temperatures were 3 or 4C hotter than today, the Arctic was ice-free, sea levels were about 40m higher, jungles covered northern Canada, while Florida was under water, along with coastal locations we now call New York city, London, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Sydney and many others. Crossing this threshold has fueled fears that we are fast approaching “tipping points” – melting of the subarctic tundra or thawing and releasing the vast quantities of methane in the Arctic sea bottom – that will accelerate global warming beyond any human capacity to stop it: “I wish it weren't true, but it looks like the world is going to blow through the 400-ppm level without losing a beat," said Scripps Institute geochemist Ralph Keeling whose father Charles Keeling set up the first monitoring stations in 1958: “At this pace, we’ll hit 450 ppm within a few decades.” “It feels like the inevitable march toward disaster,” said Maureen E. Raymo, a scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a unit of Columbia University.2

Richard Smith: Institute for Policy Research & Development Research Associate, ecological historian

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Previously in this series: 

Elites say that we need inequality to encourage the rich to invest and the creative to invent. That’s working out well — for 1% pooches.

The long-running General Electric slogan sums up what capitalist cheerleaders love to say about markets: "We bring good things to life."

The awful experience of the Great Depression made clear to many economists and laymen alike that credit is at the heart of a functioning capitalist system. Without access to credit, many businesses die and many individuals and households run out of money and go bankrupt.

The symbol of capitalism was lately a vampire. Enter the CEO with nipple clamps.

Related:

 

Approaching the End of Human History? Noam Chomsky, In These Times <>

  • The likely end of the era of civilization is foreshadowed in a new draft report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the generally conservative monitor of what is happening to the physical world.
  • The short, strange era of human civilization may be drawing to a close. 
  • The UN’s New Report on Global Warming Is the Most Terrifying Yet
  • 5 Crucial Lessons for the Left From Naomi Klein’s New Book

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Austerity, Debt & Environmental Degradation, Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance

  • System-is-guilty-e1428169582149.jpgOur individual struggles are against system-wide problems and when the people are united, we can win. Let’s keep building solidarity and unity of action so the muscle of people power grows.
  • The fracking struggle: a distorted reflection of America’s decomposing democracy

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George Carlin | “The Planet Is Fine”, George Carlin, Gospel of Reason

There is nothing wrong with the planet. Nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine. The people are fucked. Difference. Difference. The planet is fine. Compared to the people, the planet is doing great. Been here four and a half billion years. Did you ever think about the arithmetic? The planet has been here four and a half billion years. We’ve been here, what, a hundred thousand? Maybe two hundred thousand? And we’ve only been engaged in heavy industry for a little over two hundred years. Two hundred years versus four and a half billion. And we have the conceit to think that somehow we’re a threat? That somehow we’re gonna put in jeopardy this beautiful little blue-green ball that’s just a-floatin’ around the sun?

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Austerity, Debt & Environmental Degradation

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  • Our individual struggles are against system-wide problems and when the people are united, we can win. Let’s keep building solidarity and unity of action so the muscle of people power grows.
  • The fracking struggle: a distorted reflection of America’s decomposing democracy

Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance

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No-Austerity-protest-e1428168767494.jpg April 4th, 2015 | Last week, we wrote about the epidemic of neo-liberalism. This week, as major protests erupt in Canada, Mexico and Belgium, we discuss its sister, austerity. In neo-liberal economics, wealth is funneled to the top through increasing privatization of the public. This can only occur if those who are not at the top are subjected to austerity measures.

Those at the bottom are squeezed, suffer financial insecurity and the inability to meet basic needs. Rather than these realities weakening our ability to stand up, we must stand together in solidarity to take care of each other and build our power in the struggle.

Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers are participants in Popular Resistance <PopularResistance.org>, an online daily news and information service for people who want to play a role in improving the country, creating economic and social justice as well as to protect the environment. They also co-direct It’s Our Economy and are co-hosts of Clearing the FOG, shown on UStream TV and heard on radio.

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The fracking struggle: a distorted reflection of America’s decomposing democracy, TGP Staff, The Greanville Post 

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  • As usual, in the case of (the) secessionists and their short-term thinking, they don’t care much what happens to others, let alone nature which they regard as God-given for man’s infinite usufruct, as long a they get theirs. This myopic but widely embraced selfish cultural attitude is these days further reinforced by the wholesale breakdown of American society, the total corruption, cynicism and hypocrisy that defines its political and media class (which allow for no real leadership except criminal misleadership), and the massive confusion and ignorance in which most Americans live their entire lives. Clueless is as clueless does. In other words, par for the course in the American republic, overrun by the toxic power of its coddled plutocrats.
  • BP oil spill: dead zones for many, profits for the few

America's Economic Crisis: Week Ending April 11, 2015

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  • “…it seems that our remedies are instinctively those which aggravate the sickness: the remedies are expressions of the sickness itself“. --Thomas Merton
  • Part 1: Two Great Depressions: Roosevelt’s “New Deal” vs. Obama’s “Secular Stagnation”
  • Part 2: The Alternative To Long-Term Austerity: Less Work, Higher Wages, No Mere Utopian Dream

Compiled by David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest

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Part 1: Two Great Depressions: Roosevelt’s “New Deal” vs. Obama’s “Secular Stagnation”

Why Franklin Roosevelt Didn’t End the First One, and Why Barack Obama Won’t End This One

Alan Nasser, Global Research 

2852.EconomicRecession.jpgMarch 15, 2014 | Existing programs were not only too small, but they were also either temporary (Civilian Conservation Corps and Civil Works Administration) or irrationally tied to the severely weakened states’ ability to raise substantial revenues on their own (Federal Emergency Relief Act and Public Works Administration). CWA had come closest to the kind of commitment Keynes thought indispensable, but it suffered two fatal defects: it was temporary, designed only to help workers get through the harsh winter of 1933, and of all these programs it was the object of Roosevelt’s greatest suspicion. Roosevelt feared that CWA would raise workers’ expectations of what they could permanently expect from government.

The Dawn of the New Deal and Keynes’s 1933 Letter

The president’s instincts were solidly anti-federalist; there must be no permanent direct government provision of what it is the proper function of the private sector to provide. Roosevelt wanted relatively small, temporary federal efforts on behalf of workers, with the states primarily responsible for the provision of social benefits in the long run. Keynes urged large, permanent programs supplying employment during both economic contractions and expansions, provided directly by the federal government. He communicated his concern to Roosevelt in an open letter published in The New York Times on December 31, 1933. (1)

Alan Nasser is professor emeritus of Political Economy and Philosophy at The Evergreen State College. His website is: http://www.alannasser.org.  This article is adapted from his book, United States of Emergency American Capitalism and Its Crises will be published by Pluto Press later this year.

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Part 2: The Alternative To Long-Term Austerity: Less Work, Higher Wages, No Mere Utopian Dream

“A spectre is haunting the treasuries and central banks of the West – the spectre of secular stagnation. What if there is no sustainable recovery of the economic slump of 2008-2013? What if the sources of economic growth have dried up – not temporarily, but permanently?” – preeminent Keynes scholar and economic historian Robert Skidelsky, “Secular Stagnation and the Road to Full Investment,” Social Europe Journal, May 22, 2014 

Alan Nasser, Global Research

entral-banks-economy-400x264.jpgApril 07, 2015 | Both Karl Marx and J.M. Keynes concluded that the trajectory of capitalist development placed a radically emancipatory possibility on the political-economic agenda. For the first time in modern history work time could be dramatically reduced with no reduction in our standard of living. In fact, if living standards are measured not merely by money wages but also by increased leisure, i.e. increased time available to develop and exercise our broad range of gratifying capabilities, the reduction in work time would elevate our standard of living to a degree hitherto unimaginable.

In what follows we’ll see that less work with higher wages is at this historical juncture not merely economically possible, but desirable as the only practical alternative to the secular stagnation grimly forecast with much flurry by such luminaries as Paul Krugman, Larry Summers and Robert J. Gordon, and by the IMF in its April 2014 World Economic Outlook. Both Marx and Keynes saw their prescriptions as not merely a “better idea,” but as the alternative to severe ongoing crisis, understood as dramatic reductions in real production, employment and wages.

Alan Nasser is professor emeritus of Political Economy and Philosophy at The Evergreen State College. His website is: http://www.alannasser.org.  This article is adapted from his book, United States of Emergency American Capitalism and Its Crises will be published by Pluto Press later this year.

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Series | Capitalism Unmasked: Part 4: The Great Capitalist Heist: How Paris Hilton's Dogs Ended Up Better Off Than You

AlterNet Editor's Note: When harmful beliefs plague a population, you can bet that the 1% is benefiting. This article is part of a new AlterNet series, "Capitalism Unmasked," edited by Lynn Parramore and produced in partnership with author Douglas Smith and Econ4 to expose the myths and lies of unbridled capitalism and show the way to a better future.

Gerald Friedman, AlterNet

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storyimages_1341758489_parishilton.jpg_640x960_310x220Photo Credit: shutterstock 

July 8, 2012 | Elites say that we need inequality to encourage the rich to invest and the creative to invent. That’s working out well — for 1% pooches.

Summer, 2009. Unemployment is soaring. Across America, millions of terrified people are facing foreclosure and getting kicked to the curb. Meanwhile in sunny California, the hotel-heiress Paris Hilton is investing $350,000 of her $100 million fortune in a two-story house for her dogs. A Pepto Bismol-colored replica of Paris’ own Beverly Hills home, the backyard doghouse provides her precious pooches with two floors of luxury living, complete with abundant closet space and central air.

By the standards of America’s rich these days, Paris’ dogs are roughing it. In a 2006 article, Vanity Fair’s Nina Munk described the luxe residences of America’s new financial elite. Compared with the 2,405 square feet of the average new American home, the abodes of Greenwich Connecticut hedge-fund managers clock in at 15,000 square feet, about the size of a typical industrial warehouse. Many come with pool houses of over 3,000 square feet.

Gerald Friedman teaches economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is the author, most recently, of "Reigniting the Labor Movement" (Routledge, 2007).

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Part 3: Profiting From Market Failure: How Today's Capitalists Bring Bad Things to Life

The long-running General Electric slogan sums up what capitalist cheerleaders love to say about markets: "We bring good things to life."
 

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Part 2: How Out-of-Control Credit Markets Threaten Liberty, Democracy, and Economic Security

The awful experience of the Great Depression made clear to many economists and laymen alike that credit is at the heart of a functioning capitalist system. Without access to credit, many businesses die and many individuals and households run out of money and go bankrupt.

###

Part 1: Fifty Shades of Capitalism: Pain and Bondage in the American Workplace

The symbol of capitalism was lately a vampire. Enter the CEO with nipple clamps.

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